By Katy Killilea
Here’s a case where the sum is much greater than its parts! Seeing WALL-E followed by a snack at the new McCafÃ© in Seekonk was a simple yet deeply satisfying way to spend a recent bad ozone day.
First, about WALL-E. If you liked Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, or David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments, this is the perfect movie to introduce your kids to two big, thought-provoking questions. Question one: “What will happen after the earth is ruined?” Whether by natural disaster, war, or environmental neglect, it is sickening–but riveting–to imagine how people will respond to their habitat becoming uninhabitable. WALL-E invites young children to begin to wrestle with that dilemma. Question two: “Why do people think it’s fun to be on a cruise?” In WALL-E, Pixar skewers the idea of a “lust for life” having anything at all to do with having one’s every whim catered to. Ridiculing-people-on-a-cruise motif aside, WALL-E considers what constitutes a meaningful life and suggests that hedonism is probably not the answer.
All this, plus it’s funny! There are cool robots, intricate gizmos, slapstick comedy, and amazing Pixar animation of the Milky Way and surrounding universe to keep everyone entertained. The film is rated G, and the raciest part comes when WALL-E finds a brassiere in a heap of trash and briefly wears it as a pair of goggles.
After the perfect movie, we moved onward to another air-conditioned location: a McCafe (one of the new “upscale” McDonald’s). Just as there are humanely raised meats for “recovering vegetarians,” there are now McCafes for recovering McDonald’s boycotters. A McCafe is a tweaked McDonald’s; it’s kind of pretty inside–stainless steel and pale chartreuse fixtures and upholstery, a fireplace, a rounded glass case of pastries–and you can get espresso drinks (which are cruddy, but still, it’s nice that they tried). Seems you can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Of course, the main reason to go is that your kids will be happy if you take them there (a kid can only digest so much Pirate Booty before she needs shoestring fries and a shake). The second reason is that you will not mind sitting there. The third and final reason is the combination of a soft vanilla ice cream ($1 and the format is your choice: cone or hot fudge sundae) plus a cup of Paul Newman premium roast coffee ($1.19 for the small). The side-by-side combination–the hot and the cold, the creamy and the bitter–is intoxicating. For what it’s worth, I should mention that this combo won’t totally blow whatever kind of diet you adhere to–the cone has under 150 calories; the sundae, under 350. And the coffee is organic. It was, sincerely, a happy meal.
The whole outing hit the spot: the good movie, the cold air, the so-so coffee made great by visions of Paul Newman wiping his brow as he tends his shade-grown crops, the ice cream, sitting with my kids who were so pleased to have a mommy who would take them out for hardcore junk food instead of handing them a Tupperware container of cereal. And on an unbearably hot day, it’s the perfect escape.
WALL-E, Rated G. 1 hour, 37 minutes.
McCafe – 250 Highland Avenue, Seekonk, MA 02771
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Photo credits: WALL-E: Pixar Animation Studios. Cone: Hungry Girl